Writer: Donny Cates
Pencils: Joshua Cassara
Cover: Ryan Stegman & Frank Martin
Colorist: Rain Beredo
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Release Date: March 20 2019
The Abyss part 4
Many years ago, Eddie Brock’s ex-wife, Anne Weying arrives at the home of Carl Brock with a infant in her arms named Dylan. She hands the baby over to Carl and tells him Eddie can never know. She’s in tears and is clearly manic. She runs off and promises she will be back.
In the present, Venom is contained in a sonic field by the Maker in a hospital. Eddie yells to the Maker to increase the sonic payload to rip the symbiote off of Eddie, and the symbiote breaks free and destroys the lab.
Elsewhere, Dylan is being driven away from the hospital by his alleged father Carl, both of them upset with each other. Carl begins to hit Dylan when “Venom” stops the car and confronts Carl. “Venom” grabs Carl and sends tendrils into his mouth and eyes, forcing Carl into a dream-state where Carl is locked inside the same interrogation room a young Eddie was held in days after he caused the accident that killed a kid (Venom #10). “Eddie” appears and the two have an argument over Eddie’s past as a man whose made mistakes, and over their bitter relationship. “Eddie” doesn’t want to make peace with Carl anymore, or wants to kill him. He tells Carl he knows Dylan is Eddie’s son, not Carl’s, and is taking him with him. He warns Carl that if he ever tries to come between Dylan and Eddie, he will kill him.
Carl wakes from the dream-state in the middle of a desert road alone. “Venom” carries Dylan back to the hospital ward he escaped from, and Dylan realizes “Venom” has been silent the entire time. “Venom” decides “the both of them” will be better without him. The both of them being Dylan and Eddie; this whole issue “Venom” was the symbiote without its host and Eddie has been unconscious in the hospital lab after the symbiote escaped. As Eddie regains consciousness, the symbiote/”Venom” changes form into a civilian and disappears into the crowded streets.
One criticism I have felt towards these recent issues is that this is a Venom book where we haven’t seen Eddie as Venom proper since issue 6 (again, we’ve made it to issue 12). The book has been getting by mostly on Earth-shattering revelations and hidden truths and secrets (and retcons) lost or forgotten, blurring what we think we’ve always known about the character. Its been waaaay too long since the book has allowed Eddie to be Venom, and Venom to feel like an action book. What’s funny is that this issue does give us Venom, and its not actually Venom.
The symbiote is now (apparently) able to mimic a human form perfectly without the need of a human host bonded to it. This throws into question, why the symbiote would ever need a host going forward if its fully capable of blending in with the crowd, passing itself as a actual human, capable of speech. If in your mind “Venom” is only the symbiote, then for you this issue finally brings Venom back to form, but for me, Venom isn’t the symbiote. Venom is only Venom when the symbiote is bonded with Eddie Brock (or Flash Thompson). You don’t get a lot of actual factual Eddie in this issue; the symbiote mimics him in the mindscape of Eddie’s father, and then the real Eddie shows up at the very end of the book. So depending on one’s definition of Venom, you either get to see Venom (the symbiote sans Eddie) finally feel like he’s feature in his book again, or you’ll be still waiting for the issue where Venom (aka Eddie and his other united) is…you know…Venom, proper, again.
Honestly, I felt a little deflated when I think that it wasn’t Eddie that rescued his son, nor was it Eddie that got to tell off his father, getting some closure on his toxic relationship (or lack of) with Carl, but I get that this can be taken as a way to show that the symbiote is trying to redeem itself to Eddie. Best of all, it looks like we are completely over the whole “the symbiote is a dog” schtick, and the symbiote even regain its true sapience and personality. For what little that matters, as the symbiote and Eddie have gone their separate ways on fairly poor terms.
We get yet another instance of Cates playing up a secret/lie/truth/retcon mystery in the way of revealing that Anne Weying, Eddie’s ex-wife (who divorced Eddie before he ever became Venom) is the mother of Dylan, and that she brought him to Carl. Carl committed to the lie and raised Dylan as his son. Exactly what happened to Anne afterwards is left unanswered, as in the late 90s Anne (after having a mental breakdown she blames Eddie for) committed suicide. When we see her leaving Dylan with Carl “many years ago” (as the page in the comic states), its heavily suggested that she may have conceived Dylan unintentionally when the Venom symbiote temporarily left Eddie to bond with her (google She-Venom).
I’m sure long time Venom readers who have read Venom since the 90s, will have a lot to analyze from the opening Anne/Carl scenes, while the more fairly recent Venom fans may have a lot of this context fly over their heads; Cates is clearly relying on you to know who Anne is and to know of the instances she became entangled with the symbiote.
The conclusion to the Abyss storyline doesn’t answer a lot of questions. We still don’t know what Project Oversight is, and how the Maker fits into whatever their plans are, or why they’ve taken a strong interest in Venom. We do now have a son for Eddie, while Eddie no longer has the symbiote. And is Anne still alive, somehow, or did she commit suicide? With Cates so readily rewriting continuity, there is a legit possibility Anne never died.
Joshua Cassara takes on the sole art duties with this issue, unlike the previous issue where the art was shared with Stegman, and while he’s no Stegman, I liked the visuals. Cates has been pushing his story forward at the same pace he has since the sixth issue of his (as of right now) twelve issue point, and the story has been favoring more revelations and questions over action and physical confrontation; the latter being staples in most Venom books up until now. There’s still the impending threats of both Knull and Carnage on the horizon, but I wonder if the shit will ever hit the fan. If you’ve been enjoying Cates run so far, you wont change your opinion after reading issue 12. I’m staying patient, but I am more than ready for Cates to get back to the tempo he had during the first six issue, the Rex arc.